The strange beauty of this music lies in long, sustained notes that harmonise or clash with the rest of the score. And 'score' is the right word because the key instruments are piano, violin, viola and cello and the overall feel is one of a very chilled chamber orchestra. The nearest I've heard to sounds like these is Band on a Can's extraordinary string version of Eno's Music for Airports. It's unusual because the focus is not on melody and rhythm, but textures and phrasing. It's like non-electronic ambient music with an emotional heart.
A pinch more variety for a year of music that's over-flowing with superlative releases from artists of every genre, hybrid and movement - a winged victory for the sullen are an instrumental duo providing compositions of monumentally beautiful, atmospheric and minimalistic(ish) neo-classical.
I'd describe this as Interior film-music. It aches with the same longing as Thomas Newman's soundtrack for the film `American Beauty', yet carries all the subjectivity to make this a malleable and deeply emotional journey for its audience, with absorbing strings and poignant piano shaping moods of melancholy and hope alike.
Using the word `Victory'; implying positivity, change and perseverance and the word `Sullen'; implying melancholy, depression and angst, the titled of this album and project couldn't be more apt. A piano of this quality and played this well can tell such a tale - with sad minor melodies occasionally finding jazzy yet hopeful resolutions, and the strings often a warming undercurrent, also provide thick chords which, although not `triumphant' sounding (I think `victory' and `triumph' and I think of fanfare) certainly help communicate moments of life affirming equilibrium in the sullen dirge.
For someone with my tastes and musical inclinations, those being more towards aggressive and raucous styles, this sort of music is extremely therapeutic and can accompany me while I work, travel, or just sit back and relax, wholly calm... it can also detoxify my ears of the brutality I so often subject them to. To some people, who would no doubt be a more suitable audience for this kind of music than myself, I'm certain this would be found to be quite heavy going and they may struggle to find nothing but pleasure, as I do, from the listening experience. This is no doubt subject to the sparse timbre and choice textures which may feel somewhat 'empty' and thus stark and sorrowful to some.
Speaking of timbre and textures, this feels like the metaphorical `yang' if `Deaf Center' (another compositional duo whose release `Owl Splinters' I have also reviewed) was the musical `yin', a band with a similar compositional approach, yet far more negativity is implied on a whole, with the latter being a far darker experience.
As far as I know this is `A Winged Victory's...' maiden voyage. I sincerely hope there's more to come...
The comments from the other reviewers are pretty close to the mark, in my opinion. I've enjoyed Stars of the Lid, for example, for years now and A Winged Victory ... do bear a passing similarity, hardly suprising given the involvement of Adam Wiltzie in the project. That said, Winged have their own sound, it's beautiful and haunting and I suspect what seems to be a superficial simplicity actually hides a lorry-load of skill and effort to achieve.
Mood really is important here, or rather your frame of mind plus your ambient circumstances. The combination will decide whether this music gets drowned out by a real-world hubbub or succeeds in magically washing you away. Get your frame right and this is an outstanding album. Well done.
This is a languorous, piano-driven, rich sound-world. The chords & textures unfurl slowly, complemented by some luscious cello & viola (there's also French horn, harp & violins). The music is all the richer for the time & attention you give to it, as other reviewers have noted. Warmly produced, this is music to envelop you in its spell.
A few weeks ago I was browsing a website where someone recommended Stars of the lid as some relaxing music. Little did I know that within a few days I would be thoroughly hooked.
When this came up as a recommendation from Amazon I immediately checked this out via Google.
Boy oh Boy another gem of patience and joy. Somehow Adam W has hit the core with me.
Neatly sitting in the gap between classical and ambient along the lines of Phillip Glass (particularly Kooyanisqastii) this set of compositions is less stark than some of Eno's (well loved by me) work. The inclusion of cellos is particularly resonant with the way I emote about and with music.
If this genre of music is your cup of tea or you are just curious I can recommend that just one listen will leave you sated. I on the other hand am bashing through repeated listens.
Finally, at the time of writing, a concert in Hackney has been announced, off I go !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wonderful atmosphere created. Sound is almost acoustic but probably electronic. Wonderfully melodic, moves slowly and gracefully. Like Morton Feldman at high speed,,,,,but not any way speedy,,,, just slow, notes and chords just beautifully developed and lingering. It is like being on top of a mountain and watching the mists rising slowly and substantively from the valley and developing before your eyes and then evaporating again. Do buy and do not be in a rush in listening to it.....it move slowly and merits repeat and repeat multiple listenings. More please Mr. O' Halloran and CO...........
In search of ambient drone music I was kindly pointed in the direction of this CD. A Stars of the Lid/Dustin O'Halloran collaboration I was not disappointed. If you're looking for that drone music to relax or drift off to sleep to, look no further. This is one CD I turn to time and time again at night... my only complaint is I'm still waiting for a follow up.. more please!